Broken brass screws. Aaaargghhh!!!!!!!

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Forum topic by Chinitorama posted 07-27-2010 12:20 AM 6076 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Chinitorama's profile


105 posts in 3537 days

07-27-2010 12:20 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question tip trick

Hi all,

Was just installing some Brusso hinges and the screws keep breaking. Brand new screws and one went in perfect in each leaf, so I think I’m stuck working with the leaf in place. Worse still, I tried to drill one out and the bit snapped off in the hole as well. Any suggestions as to how to get the bit out?


14 replies so far

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 4148 days

#1 posted 07-27-2010 12:33 AM

J… sorry to hear about your dilemma. Been there done that. If you can back out the screw that went in well, you can remove the hinge leaf. Don’t tear up your wood trying to pull out the old screw. I’d suggest filing it down flush with your box then using some epoxy adhesive to hold down the hinge leaf. Screw in the good screw to ‘clamp’ it in place. Then get a nother screw, cut off the head and use CA glue to glue it above your screw up. LOL.. I couldn’t resist the pun. To prevent having to do this again, I suggest that you predrill AND use SS screws to cut threads into your wood. Remove the SS screws and replace with the brass screws. It would also be a good idea to use some screw lube…. beeswax is good. Good luck. Rat

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View poopiekat's profile


4405 posts in 3973 days

#2 posted 07-27-2010 12:44 AM

There are hollow bits you can buy that are specifically made to drill around a headless screw. Then you can plug the hole with 1/4” dowel. Use a vix bit with the proper diameter drill bit to make the new pilot hole.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3192 days

#3 posted 07-27-2010 12:48 AM

I have lived in fear of this very situation for a long time, but have not had to deal with it. My inclination is as follows: If you have a Dremel or trim router, take a 1/8” straight bit and route a slot up to the broken screw without actually touching it (or maybe drill on both sides) so you can dig the broken parts out. Some sort of jig to get a clean cut would be preferable to freehanding it. The small router bit would then be able to cut a clean slot so you could make and glue in a snug-fitting plug. If you’re careful, you can make a nice clean job of it with everything covered by the hinge. If the same wood, it should be invisible. If it’s a quadrant hinge you have a bit more room to work and fit the plug.

Sounds like your drill may be a little too small. I also counterbore the top a little rather than try to force the unthreaded shank part into the wood. A little parafin or other wax on the screw also helps it go in easier. Some guys use steel screws to cut the initial bore and then install the brass ones.

I will be watching this post for any better ideas. This will probably happen to me tomorrow!

Good luck,

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3192 days

#4 posted 07-27-2010 12:57 AM

Another thought, if you can see the broken shank you might be able to take a dremel and dental burr to cut a new slot. Then just back it out. I also like poopiekat’s approach with the special hollow drill. You will have to remove the leaves in either event.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View Chinitorama's profile


105 posts in 3537 days

#5 posted 07-27-2010 01:36 AM

Thanks guys,

Managed to back the good screws out and remove the hinge leaves. As the screws were brass, used a narrow chisel and mortised them out and plugged the holes. The broken drill bit I managed to squish out of the way with a nail set and plugged it as well. Poopiekat, I’ll definitely be buying a properly sized Vix bit tomorrow. Bottoms of the hinge mortises are a mess, but they’ll be covered in the end.

All in all it looks like the fixes will be invisible. I’ll post pics when the project’s done and see if anyone can guess which hinges were the nasty ones. :p

Thanks for the help everyone.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3307 days

#6 posted 07-27-2010 01:51 AM

When I’m working with brass screws, I use steel screws to “tap” the holes during fit-up. I only use the brass screws during final assembly – and NEVER use a power driver! – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View vicrider's profile


179 posts in 3137 days

#7 posted 07-27-2010 02:37 AM

maybe these

-- vicrider

View AaronK's profile


1507 posts in 3703 days

#8 posted 07-27-2010 02:58 AM

I installed hinges for the first time on my last project – beautiful extruded hinges and of course the screws were utter crap. I’d been forwarned of that, though, and took precautions:

1. drill the holes correctly
2. wax the threads
3. hand drive them slowly

and they worked totally fine – didn’t even need to pretap. your screws might be worse than mine, but i doubt it!

anyway, plenty of advice here on how to get the problems out… just take it really easy on those screws :-)

View Woodbutcher3's profile


454 posts in 3125 days

#9 posted 07-27-2010 03:08 AM

Stainles steel prep is a great method and wax is great advice. Some would even suggest soap. However, Let me say, soap attracts moisture – not good, especially if you go with screws other than brass or SS.

-- Rod ~ There's never enough time to finish a project, but there's always time to start another one.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3222 days

#10 posted 07-27-2010 05:52 AM

Have had this happen before. I took a piece of old brake line and with a triangular file cut teeth in the end of it. I then chucked it in my drill and drilled down to the depth of the screw and then popped it out like you would a plug.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View jsheaney's profile


141 posts in 4227 days

#11 posted 07-27-2010 06:21 AM

Well, everyone has said all the important stuff. I’ve done the same thing myself. The thing that amazed me was how easy that screw head came off. Didn’t even feel it. So, my one little addition…hold the screwdriver with your thumb and fingertips. Don’t grip it with your whole hand. If you need more power than just your fingertips then your going to twist that head right off. Back it out and drill some more and do all those other things everyone said.

-- Disappointment is an empty box full of expectation.

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4260 days

#12 posted 07-27-2010 02:56 PM

I use these Gimlets now to start the holes and follow them with a steel screws then the brass ones.

Got mine from Lee Valley.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21967 posts in 3344 days

#13 posted 08-06-2010 03:13 PM

Wow you all had some real good ideas. The hollow bit and plug was my choice, but I think prevention is a key for all of us . Centering hinge holes with a Vix bit and drilling a pilot hole of the proper size is a must, but I like”tapping” the hole out with a same size steel screw first. I learned something new today again!!!!

One error I found out on Vix type bits. Always check to see that the tapered sliding portion of the Vix bit does NOT protrude through the hinge . If it does, It will not center the screw. It will go where that end first hits the wood. If it does stick through, remove the drill bit and carefully grind off just enough of the end of that tapered section so it is not sticking through. This will let the taper find the “pocket” and truly center the drill.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3547 days

#14 posted 02-14-2013 11:28 PM

I like the solid brass hinges but the brass screws are not good and anyway you look at it brass is soft…
I now discard the brass screws and use #4 steel brass-plated flat head screws with a square drive instead of a philips head…

I use the vix bit all the time and it is great. I have also used the screw extractors that drill around the hole but have fortunately not had that problem in a long time.

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